Review: Maometto II (Canadian Opera Company)

Elizabeth DeShong as Calbo and Leah Crocetto as Anna in the COC’s production of Maometto II, 2016. Conductor Harry Bicket, director David Alden, set and costume designer Jon Morrell, and lighting designer Duane Schuler, photo: Michael CooperThe Canadian Opera Company debuts Gioachino Rossini’s Maometto II in Toronto

Maometto II by Gioachino Rossini has all of the ingredients you need to create melodrama: political intrigue, conspiracies, rape, murder, and violence. This is the Canadian Opera Company’s first time mounting this rarity. Placed in the deft hands of seasoned opera director David Alden, and conductor Harry Bickett, the result was a near-flawless, world-class production. Continue reading Review: Maometto II (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: Oraltorio: a Theatrical MixTape (The Riser Project/Why Not Theatre)

oraltorioOraltorio explores history and identity through music, on stage at the Theatre Centre in Toronto

It’s easy to get stuck with a very limited set of cultural experiences. Our time and our money is valuable to us and so we often gravitate towards phenomena we’ve already experienced and enjoyed. Aware of this tendency within myself, I sometimes choose productions that are, on the surface at least, outside my established interests. The Riser Project’s Oraltorio: a Theatrical MixTape, currently playing at The Theatre Centre, was a leap for me…and one I’m very glad I took! Continue reading Review: Oraltorio: a Theatrical MixTape (The Riser Project/Why Not Theatre)

Review: The Rape of Lucretia (MYOpera)

Photo of Christina Campsall as Lucretia. Photo by William Ford PhotographyMYOpera presents Benjamin Britten’s classic chamber opera at the Aki Theatre in Toronto

MYOpera presents a more modern version of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia on stage this weekend only at the Aki Studio Theatre. What was originally set during the Roman Empire at approximately 509 BC is now staged at the end of the Second World War when the opera originally debuted. The costumes are updated for the period but the text from the opera remains unchanged.

Admittedly, neither I or my guest are experts on opera and entered this performance hoping to be moved by a powerful and gripping drama. At the end, we were end with unfortunately lukewarm impressions.

Continue reading Review: The Rape of Lucretia (MYOpera)

Review: Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom (Canadian Stage)

Photo of Stephen Jackman-Torkoff and Salvatore Antonio in Botticelli in the Fire by Cylla von TiedemannCanadian Stage partners with York University’s Theatre Department for a stunning double feature in Toronto

Canadian Stage is collaborating with York University’s Theatre Department to produce a provocative and eye-opening double feature at the Berkeley Street TheatreBotticelli in the Fire and Sunday in Sodom. Namely, the directors for these two shows, Matjash Mrozewski and Estelle Shook respectively, graduated from York’s MFA Program in Theatre – Stage Direction last year.

They bring a fresh and youthful voice to these stories: a retelling of two events, one historic and one mythical, bringing a stark modern-day sensibility to these tales that renders the stories both captivating and highly relevant.

Continue reading Review: Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom (Canadian Stage)

Preview: DiverCity Weekend (Second City)

Photo of DiverCity weekend 2015 Bob Curry fellows

DiverCity Weekend – part of Second City’s Diversity & Outreach program – aims to open doors and cultivate local talent who may not otherwise get the chance to experience improv. Over 3 days in Toronto, various events and workshops will take place, culminating with the NBC scholarship auditions .

I had a chance to ask Dionna Griffin-Irons, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Klaus Schuller, Producer and Executive Director of Second City Canada a few questions about this event, and diversity in Toronto generally.

Continue reading Preview: DiverCity Weekend (Second City)

Looking for Paul: Inez van Dam vs. The Buttplug Gnome (Wunderbaum)

Photo of Looking for Paul

Looking for Paul is a Show for Thinkers, Feelers, Radicals and Weirdos

You ever have a piece of art you hate — like really, really hate — and you wonder why and how that thing managed to not only get made but get funded, too? Wunderbaum’s Looking for Paul: Inez van Dam vs. the Buttplug Gnome, done in association with Richard Jordan Productions, RED CAT, Theatre Royal Plymouth, and Summerhall, and playing at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre, tackles just such a question — and it does so in an unforgettable fashion.

A combination of comedy, moral fluidity, and chaos is only the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading Looking for Paul: Inez van Dam vs. The Buttplug Gnome (Wunderbaum)

Review: Scarberia (Young People’s Theatre)

Scarberia, YPT

YPT’s Scarberia is One of the Best Shows of 2016

With Scarberia, Young People’s Theatre have produced a play that not only explores the desperation and confusion of growing up but also goes far deeper into issues that transcend the traditional view of youth oriented theatre.

So often we assume that when something is aimed at the under 18 crowd that it’s going to be simplistic or even worse patronising. Writer Evan Placey has avoided both of these pitfalls and created a powerful script that YPT took and ran with, creating one of the best things I’ve seen in 2016.

Continue reading Review: Scarberia (Young People’s Theatre)

Review: The Summoned (Tarragon)

The Summoned, Tarragon Theatre

The Summoned explores technology in modern life, on stage at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto

In The Summoned, Fabrizio Filippo’s new play premiering at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, “the summoned” are the major figures in the life of a recently-deceased billionaire, head of a tech company and empire, who gather at a budget hotel by an airport to hear the reading of his will.

The play, which tries to answer the question, “how far from our nature can technology take us?” shows a distinctive voice. It’s creative, entertaining, and has fascinating sci-fi implications. It also has numerous rough edges, relies too much on shock value, and strays into writerly self-indulgence, just like our online world. In short, it’s a promising idea that needs another round of beta testing.

Continue reading Review: The Summoned (Tarragon)

Review: One Man Star Wars Trilogy (Starvox)

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Starvox presents the original Star Wars trilogy in a one-man show on stage in Toronto

I took Starvox at their word about One Man Star Wars Trilogy being suitable for “ages six to Yoda” on opening night at Bluma Appel Theatre and brought my favorite six-year-old Star Wars fan, Stanley, along to see Charles Ross’ solo rendition of all three movies, by himself, in 75 minutes. With nothing but a mic and a remarkable array of mouth noises, Ross recaps the entire trilogy. Though obviously a heroic endeavor, and clearly very appealing to the three guys sitting behind me, my small companion and I concurred – not really our cup of tea.

Continue reading Review: One Man Star Wars Trilogy (Starvox)

Preview: The 2nd Annual Short Short Play Festival (Social Capital Theatre)

TheShortShortPlayFestivalPoster2016THISONEThe Social Capital Theatre is about to come alive with some of Canada’s best emerging and established talent with The 2nd Annual (ever!) Short Short Play Festival.

The festival runs from April 27th through May 1st, 2016 and is unique in that it features plays that are 20 minutes or less. The diverse lineup is presented as a “tasting menu”, with three plays during each time slot, giving the audience a wide range of characters, genres, and themes all within the span of one viewing.

We had the chance to speak with Melyssa Ade, the Artistic Director of The 2nd Annual Short Short Play Festival. Continue reading Preview: The 2nd Annual Short Short Play Festival (Social Capital Theatre)